Speaking March 14th was James “Poo” Johnson, a leader of the Newport News Boys Club for many years. He mentored almost all the local athletes coming through the Peninsula as well as Southside. He worked with the young Mike Tomlin, Allen Iverson, Michael Vick and others.
Article About Poo Johnson:
Johnson recognized for lifetime of service to Boys and Girls Club of Greater Hampton Roads
April 27, 2014|By Ryan Murphy
HAMPTON — Renard Miller was 9 years old when he first made his way to the Boys and Girls Club on Hampton Avenue some 44 years ago.
Miller, now retired from a career with the FBI, recalled how one man had shaped him and countless others over the last five generations at a Boys and Girls Club of Greater Hampton Roads banquet Saturday night.
“I am but one voice, but I represent thousands from the projects,” Miller said. “It takes a village to raise a kid … but this man has raised a village.”
Miller pointed to James “Poo” Johnson, who spent more than five decades with the Boys and Girls Club. Johnson, a man known for his compassion and his love of jokes, was recognized for his service to the club at the banquet Saturday, just one week after being named “Role Model of the Year” by the Peninsula chapter of 100 Black Men of America.
Miller said all of his accomplishments – graduating from high school and college with honors, becoming a police officer – were directly attributable to Johnson and the lessons he imparted.
“Poo taught me it’s about pouring all that you have into all that you do,” Miller said. “This is the man that taught me to dream. This is the man who taught me that dreams can come true.”
James “Poo” Johnson spent 45 years as a professional youth developer with the Boys and Girls Club, but Johnson said he started out in the youth program the same year Jackie Robinson broke into baseball – 1947.
Johnson grew up in the organization as a young man living in the projects of Newport News, he said. He went to college on a baseball scholarship, spent 2 years in the Army and worked as a pipefitter at the shipyard before he was brought on as a staff member coordinating sports programs for the young boys.
Now in his 70’s, Johnson’s mentored thousands of young men and women over the last five decades, including notable names like basketball superstar Allen Iverson and NFL quarterback Michael Vick.
Johnson ultimately helped run the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Hampton Roads as a senior director before retiring last year. However, he said his retirement won’t be the end of his civic involvement.
“You’ve got to wake up in the morning with something that drives you and that you’re willing to die for,” Johnson said. “It’s been a good ride, but I’m not through.”
Johnson is now working to promote the Community Free Clinic in Newport News, calling it his “new adventure.”
Johnson said the work he did is all part of an ongoing cycle of mentorship — just as he was mentored and went on to mentor others, Johnson hopes that the men and women he’s helped along the way will return the favor.